Many Sleepy Bear residents still don’t have electricity after 5 weeks
Thirty-five days after two electrical fires broke out at Sleepy Bear mobile home park and left 15 units without electricity, those homes are not expected to see their power restored until the end of the month or longer.
Routt County Building Department official Todd Carr said Central Electric LLC is working on pulling wire through the underground conduit from the main power source to individual pedestals located outside each of the impacted homes. The goal is to complete that work by July 30, Carr said.
Once the work is finished on the main electrical distribution system, each home owner is tasked with hiring their own electrical contractor, per the Colorado Mobile Home Park Act. The contractor then has to install a new power line from the pedestal to the existing electrical panel within their home.
In addition, the electrical contractor will perform any other repairs and safety improvements that may be needed to each home, and that work will need to be inspected by the Routt County electrical inspector, Carr said. Once the work is approved, the county notifies Yampa Valley Electric Association, which then installs a meter, and power can be restored.
“Everyone understands the importance of getting these folks their power back on, and without a doubt, all of us entities will drop other work and get on this project immediately,” Carr said. “That has been a goal since day one.”
Routt County United Way has agreed to help residents cover some of the cost for hiring an electrical contractor through an emergency fund the nonprofit set up specifically for Sleepy Bear residents.
“Our hearts go out to the folks there because they’ve really been struggling for a number of weeks,” said Routt County United Way Executive Director Kate Nowak. “We want to support our community members in emergencies.”
United Way also has provided residents with grocery store gift cards.
Norma Ryan, a Sleepy Bear resident who has communicated with city and county officials on behalf of the park, said she is concerned about residents being able to afford electrical contractors, as most residents are lower-income and the cost of construction and contractors has increased significantly throughout the past year.
“It’s ridiculous upon ridiculous, and there’s very little we can do to know anything except just be hopeful,” Ryan said. “We’re tired, and someone needs to be held accountable for this.”
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs has also launched an investigation into alleged negligence, according to Brett McPherson, department spokesperson. McPherson said he could not elaborate on the complaint’s specifics while the department is investigating but stated the Mobile Home Park Act holds a landlord responsible for damage costs or reimbursing impacted tenants if the landlord or their agent damaged a park electrical line.
Steamboat Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Bock said while the city has little control over the situation, city legal staff have worked with the state to ensure the Mobile Home Park Act is followed correctly and provided supplies to residents without electricity.
“Our first priority is making sure people are safe,” Bock said.
Impacted Sleepy Bear residents are still in need of prepackaged snacks, batteries and bottled water. Those wishing to donate supplies can bring them to 3725 Lincoln Ave., Unit 22.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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